Don’t Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Do This Instead.
Every self-help book, life coach, or mentor has perpetuated the idea that in order to get ahead you have to step outside your comfort zone.
You must be courageous, take risks, and do things that scare you – only then can you truly see growth. And it’s true, if you want to see progress you have to explore the space outside and beyond your box. However, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always struggled with the concept of “stepping outside your comfort zone”.
I’m a (self-diagnosed) introvert with extroverted tendencies. I like being social, being a part of large communities, and in my heyday could party like it was no tomorrow. But I also put high priority on my ‘me’ time, I’m never one to strike up a conversation (especially with someone I don’t know, eek!), and I’m perfectly content sitting quietly with a good book and glass of wine.
So, to me, saying “step outside your comfort zone” was a very forceful and aggressive way to say you have to put yourself out there in ways that are uncomfortable and not aligned with who you are.
I’ve attended the ever-dreaded networking events, I’ve said yes to projects I wasn’t the least bit excited about, and I’ve worked with people who have drained the life out of me – all in the name of “stepping outside my comfort zone”.
Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?
Expanding Your Capacity
The concept of “stepping outside your comfort zone” all comes down to challenging yourself – which is a good thing! However, it also tends to have very judgemental and negative undertones to it.
It creates a mindset that you’re in a place of weakness or that you’re playing it too safe and you need to move to a place of more strength and power. It causes you to beat yourself up for not pushing harder or reaching further, as well as question your ability to succeed at all.
It’s not a good feeling and makes you want to avoid challenging yourself altogether.
I know, I’ve been down that road.
Lately, however, I’ve been challenging myself to start thinking about stepping outside my comfort zone in a new light with the idea of expanding my capacity. To me, “expanding your capacity” has more positive juju and inspires growth to new levels, rather than forcibly pushing past your boundaries. It creates a mindset that you’re moving from a good place to an even better place, all while learning to use the skills and gifts you already have and adding some new ones along the way.
So as I said, yes – in order to grow, you do need to get out and meet people, try new things, and stretch yourself.
But you should do so from a place of desire. A desire to grow and build upon what you already have. Not out of fear, obligation, or because that’s what you’ve been told you have to do in order to succeed.
Continue to reach for the stars, but do so from a place of authenticity and joyful intention.
Expand your capacity and you’ll be open to a world of opportunities.
About The Author: Ashlei is the creative director of Kinks are the New Pink, a lifestyle blog dedicated to inspiring & guiding women to style life their own way. To her, style is more than how you dress, do your hair, or decorate your apartment – it’s about how you relate and create in every area of life. In her spare time she enjoys diving into a variety of passions including writing, reading, eating (preferably with a glass of wine or tumbler of bourbon), traveling, and working on her photography skills. She’s a soon-to-be Mrs. and resides in Chicago with her fiance, DCT, and 3 (yes, 3) cats.